Online consultation launched by the Information Commissioner's Office to evaluate online privacy

An online consultation for a new code of website privacy practice has been launched by the Information Commissioner's Office.

It is intended to provide organisations with a practical and common sense approach to protecting individuals' privacy online. The draft explains how the law applies and calls on organisations to give people the right degree of choice and control over their personal information.

Guidance is given on giving users clear privacy choices and making it easier for people to erase their personal information at the end of a browsing session.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, said: “The internet plays a huge role in our everyday lives as we do more of our business online than ever before. Customers can always vote with their feet and punish organisations that they feel have let them down - which serves as a very real reminder that getting privacy online wrong is a risky game to play.

“People should have control over what happens to their personal information online whether it's correcting inaccuracies, deleting profiles or choosing the privacy settings that suit them.”

The consultation began on the 9th December and ends on the 5th March 2010. The online consultation can be found here.

Simon McDougall, head of the privacy and data protection at Deloitte, welcomed the guidance. He said: “We need a common understanding of good practice in website privacy. Businesses perceive a dilemma between using unwieldy disclaimers, or accusations of lacking transparency.

“Users hear conflicting messages on features such as behavioural marketing and cookie usage, and this discourages many from doing business online. A plain English ICO Code of Practice will help build trust and encourage privacy-aware innovation."

The code gives practical advice about cloud computing and calls on organisations to use the technology available to them to give people better rights, for example real-time access to personal information where this is possible.

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